Fulfilling Mass Obligation at SSPX chapels: Has there been a reversal?

I am just getting up to speed on this, since I am on the road.

Someone submitted a question to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” about whether or not we fulfilled our obligation on days of precept (i.e., Sundays, Holy Days of  Obligation), by attending Holy Mass at a chapel of the Society of St. Pius X.  The position of the Holy See hitherto has always been ‘Yes’.

Some asked, and here is the transcript of the letter found at Queen of Martyrs Press:

And let this be a lesson to people who ask question!

February 19, 2012

His Eminence
William Joseph Card. Levada
President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”
Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio
00120 Vatican City

Most Reverend Eminence,

My name is ___________ and I reside in ______,______, U.S.A. I am writing to Your Eminence in regards to a “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel  [QUAERITUR: Is that chapel different from ordinary chapels of the SSPX?  What is a "Friends of the SSPX" chapel?] here in ________ called __________ Roman Catholic Church whose chaplain is Rev.____________.

In Pope Benedict XVI’s letter on March 10, 2009 concerning the lifting of the excommunications of the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X, the Holy Father conveyed that the priests of the Society do not exercise their ministry legitimately within the Church. I do not wish to question the legitimacy of the ministry of the clergy of Society of St. Pius X and that of their affiliates, as this has already been addressed by His Holiness.

My questions strictly pertain to Canon 1248 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law, which states:

The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.

Based on this information, I have two very specific questions which I would like to ask Your Eminence to answer:

1) Strictly considering the aforementioned canon, would a Catholic fulfill his Mass obligation by assisting at Holy Mass by attending this “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel called __________ Roman Catholic Church in _______,_______?

2) Upon the condition that the answer to the first question is in the negative, does a Catholic sin by assisting at Holy Mass at the aforementioned “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X” chapel?

Please understand that I am neither asking nor expecting Your Eminence to recommend that the faithful attend liturgical services at this or any other chapel affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X.

I wish to thank Your Eminence for taking the time to address this matter for me and answering these two questions. I trust that after receiving Your Eminence’s response that I will have clear and direct answers to each of these two questions that will avoid any further confusion. I can assure Your Eminence of my prayers.

Embracing the sacred purple of His Most Reverend Eminence, I am His Eminence’s very humble and obedient servant.

Sincerely,

Okay… that lays it out clearly.

Here is the scan of the letter of response from the Secretary of the PCED, Msgr. Pozzo.  Remember, all correspondence to a dicastery of the Holy See is to be addressed to the head of the dicastery.  The appropriate person responds:

Again, I don’t know if a “Friends of the SSPX” chapel is different from a normal SSPX chapel.  Perhaps therein lies the difference.  Otherwise, if this is to be applied to the SSPX as a whole, all chapels associated with the SSPX, then what this letter conveys seems to be a reversal of the previous position of the Holy See.

One can only surmise that such a change has been advanced in order to clarify the status of those of the SSPX who would NOT choose closer and clear unity with Peter in the person of the Roman Pontiff.  If there is a reconciliation under the leadership of SSPX Bp. Fellay, and if a group refuses to go along, then – before the fact, and that is important – that splinter group would know where they stand spiritually.

Here is something to consider.

People can now say “But Father! But Father!  How can the Holy See say one thing before and another thing now?”

The Church gets to determine how we fulfill our obligations.  The Church gets to interpret law.  It is a long-standing principle of interpretation of law to be as generous and flexible with them when they impose obligations (as the law does in regard to days of precept).  In that case, this letter puzzles me a little, though the official interpretation of law is far above my pay grade.

I suspect that we will get some clarifications in the near future.

Meanwhile,

DO NOT FREAK OUT.

Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity,

UPDATE 1 June 0429 GMT:

From Rorate:

Clarification (2100 GMT): Following our request for a clarification, we have been informed by the US District of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) that the chapel mentioned in the letter below is not a chapel of the Society and that, while its specific name was expressly mentioned by the sender in the deleted data, it is NOT included in the public list of chapels, including those other chapels identified by the Society publicly as ‘Friends of the Society of St. Pius X’. It is very possible that this information, easily researched online on the website of the U. S. District, might have led someone in the Commission to believe that this specific chapel, which is not listed by them and not one of the “Friends of the Society of Saint Pius X” or “other traditional (non-SSPX) venues”, is a venue with no affiliation whatsoever with the SSPX and led to this different appraisal by the Commission.

That helps.

In any event, I stand by what I wrote, above.  This should be food for thought for those who would not accept greater and clearer unity with the Roman Pontiff.

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85 Responses to Fulfilling Mass Obligation at SSPX chapels: Has there been a reversal?

  1. traditionalorganist says:

    There’s a “friend of the society” in my area and I understand he’s not in communion with any bishop. He’s also not a member of the society, but he offers a Tridentine Mass. He sounds more “freelance” than anything else, so this letter could be responding to the case of that particular chapel and the priests involved. Along similar lines, with the Society, isn’t it really the bishops who are not in communion with their superiors, whereas their priests ARE in communion with their bishops? Perhaps that affects the fulfillment of the Sunday Obligation.

  2. The 2003 letter of Msgr Perl was worded in such a way, as not to be a blank check for those wishing to fulfill their obligation at an SSPX chapel. This might explain why the same letter took great pains to discourage such a practice.

    It has been said before, and is simple and straightforward in its logic: “One cannot use an unlawful means to fulfill a lawful end.” We would hardly expect the lawgiver, or his delegate, to encourage otherwise. That said, the more recent letter from Msgr Pozzo is hardly a reversal of discipline, as some have suggested, but a much-needed clarification, one which should come as a surprise to no one.

  3. Aya says:

    Fr. Z,does it mean that one can attend SSPXian Mass anytime??

  4. acardnal says:

    I understand this letter to refer to NON-SSPX chapels and, therefore, it does not apply to SSPX chapels and priests as Fr. Z suggested it might above. I happily await further clarification from the PCED/Holy See.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    Posted a somewhat lengthy comment about that in another thread (which derailed into this topic) just prior to seeing this post: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2012/05/sspx-reunion-with-roman-pontiff-postponed/#comment-343893

    Interesting is that we now have the letter sent to the PCED, but other than the possibility this concerns not the SSPX itself but a splinter, we’re none the wiser in the sense that due to the specific isolation of canon 1248 paragraph 1, this could be a reversion or perfectly consistent. After all, it may be possible for some, in specific circumstances, to attend, but one could hardly expect a blanket approval to attend Masses that our outside the control and obedience of the Church.

  6. acardnal says:

    Just to clarify my above, the sentence should read “. . . as Fr. Z suggested above it might not apply to SSPX chapels.”

  7. JordanH says:

    I’m confused, if this is a Chapel that does not fulfill Sunday obligation doesn’t that imply that the Priest has no faculties or it’s otherwise invalid?

    If that’s the case, how is it not sinful to assist? Wouldn’t assisting be simulating a sacrament?

  8. Mary Jane says:

    Honestly, there isn’t much of a difference between an SSPX chapel and a “friends of the SSPX” chapel. Perhaps this is also a warning to Independent chapels?

    Probably better not to speculate but rather to pray and wait for further news/clarification.

  9. JordanH:

    The matter of a priest’s validity, and whether his bonafides are in order (that is to say, that he operates licitly) are two completely different things. The matter of assistance is also one thing, but whether such assistance is used to fulfill one’s obligation is something else. So, let’s review:

    Valid. Licit. Two different words. Two different meanings.

    Attend Mass. Fulfill a Sunday obligation. One relies on the other, but are still two different issues.

  10. Mary Jane says:

    @ JordanH, a lack of faculties on the part of the priest doesn’t mean a Mass he celebrates would be invalid. It would be illicit, but not invalid.

  11. anilwang says:

    JordanH: Not necessarily. It’s my understanding that you can fulfill your Sunday obligations in an Eastern Orthodox Church provided that you have permission from both the Catholic and Orthodox bishops.

    This is generally allowed if the person is stationed in an area where there is no Catholic presence. Orthodox orders are valid even though they are in schism. There are more than a few Orthodox-Catholic mixed marriages where such mutual participation happens and is allowed (although for the most part spouses might not take communion in the other’s Church unless they are Armenian? which is in full communion with both Catholics and Orthodox).

  12. Haec Dies says:

    I think the question is very simple. As an SSPX Mass attendee there are times when travelling or because of family circumstances that we attend Mass at the chapel which is Not an SSPX chapel but at a chapel whose priest is a friend (not part of ) the SSPX. I am thinking about priests who left their dioceses and became independant. But in there independancy they looked to the SSPX as a beacon to teather to. Hope this helps. In today’s climate within the church and the reemergance of the Tridentine Mass in many places it is not difficult to find a legitimate church in which to attend Mass.

  13. Well, clearly, this refers to ONE particular chapel. Both the questioner and the respondent were careful to specify this. This doesn’t appear to have general application.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Still confused. If the SSPX is the only TLM in the area, can we choose that over the NO? I would assume there is a difference between attending Mass and receiving Communion, and receiving other sacraments, such as Confession and Matrimony, for which a priest needs a bishop to confer faculties.

  15. Centristian says:

    My experience with the SSPX of years ago does not recall anything specifically labelled a “Friends of the Society of St. Pius X Chapel” (not to say that such things do not exist, only that I am unaware of them), however it was very common for priests of the SSPX to celebrate Mass at venues that were not priories or churches that were actually owned by the SSPX, in locations where there would be a steady group of followers large enough that the local priory deemed it worthwhile to send out a priest once a week, or once a month, or even less frequently.

    These venues would have involved chapels owned not by the SSPX, but by the worshipping community, or private chapels owned by individuals or some family or other, or home chapels, or even temporary facilities such as rented banquet rooms at hotels or perhaps even somebody’s garage or living room.

    I was unaware that the Holy See had ever declared that a Catholic could fulfil his obligation, outright, at an SSPX chapel, apart from some extraordinary circumstance or condition. I would have assumed that this letter from Monsignor Pozzo reflected the status quo, given the circumstances. Why would it be perfectly alright for Catholics to routinely assist at Masses offered by suspended clergy without faculties? What would “suspended” really mean, in that case? It would seem sort of empty.

  16. haribo says:

    Could the chapel mentioned in the letter be an independent chapel staffed by a priest not in good standing with his diocese? An independent chapel might request an SSPX priest, but not get one and continue its full liturgical schedule anyway.

  17. Papabile says:

    I would be interested in what Legislative Texts had to say on this, not PCED/CDF. You want a definitive interpretation of the law, go to them – of course, looking at the membership, you never know what you will get back.

  18. Mary Jane says:

    @ haribo,

    An independent chapel is exactly what I am thinking a “friend of the SSPX” is…but “an independent chapel staffed by a priest not in good standing with his diocese” and an SSPX chapel are pretty much the same thing.

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  20. Jack Orlando says:

    I wonder

    1. if the letter is a forgery, a fake, a hoax; and [No. I don't think so.]

    2. if the letter is being circulated now, over two months after it purportedly was written, in order to prevent the regularization of the SSPX by stirring up ill will and suspicion toward Rome among SSPX members. [Or, perhaps someone had a genuine doubt. Some people truly want to do the right thing, you know.]

  21. wurdesmythe says:

    A priest who is a friend of the SSPX is one who offers only the Tridentine Mass, who is not a member of the Society (i.e. formed in one of its seminaries and ordained by one of its bishops), and who is publicly affiliated with the SSPX. One example is the chapel of St. Athanasius in Vienna, VA outside of Washington, DC — the pastor is Fr. Ronald Ringrose; the chapel property belongs to Father and not the SSPX. The leadership of the SSPX has confirmed that the priest in question is thoroughly orthodox, not sede-vacantist or Feeneyite, and sympathetic to the SSPX’s goal of preserving the traditional form of the priesthood and the Sacraments and of resisting the encroachments of modernism.

    If you look at the list of SSPX chapels on the web site of the SSPX’s U.S. District at http://sspx.org/chapels.htm you will note 10 (e.g. St. Thomas More Chapel in San Jose, CA) that are designated as non-SSPX traditional chapels.

  22. For background regarding allegations of previous “authorization” of attendance at SSPX Masses: The paragraphs below are copied from a 2003 letter to a private individual–the “correspondent” who had inquired–from Msgr. Camille Perl, who then occupied the same PECD position that Msgr. Guido Pozzo occupies now. As I understand it, these seemingly contradictory private letters were written in reply to specific and individual pastoral situations, and hence have no implication for others, so arguments about them may be “much ado about nothing”, pending official clarification of the situation. Indeed, I understand a canon lawyer would say that such private letters have no legal status, and therefore no general applicability. Interestingly, the original http://www.unavoce.org link to this letter is no longer active. From Msg. Perl:

    In a previous letter to the same correspondent we had already indicated the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X which we will summarize briefly here.

    1.) The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but they are suspended from exercising their priestly functions. To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, they are also excommunicated.

    2.) Concretely this means that the Masses offered by these priests are valid, but illicit i.e., contrary to the law of the Church.

    Points 1 and 3 in our letter of 27 September 2002 to this correspondent are accurately reported. His first question was “Can I fulfill my Sunday obligation by attending a Pius X Mass” and our response was:

    “1. In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X.”

    His second question was “Is it a sin for me to attend a Pius X Mass” and we responded stating:

    “2. We have already told you that we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass and have explained the reason why. If your primary reason for attending were to manifest your desire to separate yourself from communion with the Roman Pontiff and those in communion with him, it would be a sin. If your intention is simply to participate in a Mass according to the 1962 Missal for the sake of devotion, this would not be a sin.”

    His third question was: “Is it a sin for me to contribute to the Sunday collection a Pius X Mass” to which we responded:

    “3. It would seem that a modest contribution to the collection at Mass could be justified.”

  23. AnnAsher says:

    You know, don’t ask, don’t tell, can be a motto for a lot of things.

  24. AnnAsher says:

    I’d like to add that there are independent priests whose Bishops let them go, never suspending faculties and there are independent schismatics. I don’t attend an SSPX chapel but if I did this letter wouldn’t change that for me. I agree with suoertradmum that confession and marriage, confirmation, baptism are out of bounds. But IMO Mass and Communion are good to go if you do not seek to thumb your nose at BXVI. Per what I’ve read on the matter.

  25. BobP says:

    @AnnAsher, was thinking the same thing. Seems like if you ask the same question over and over again, eventually you will get a different answer. So why do that? Now one is almost forced to ask them again unless he’s happy to go back to his “NO” Masses where he can be embraced and “welcomed back home.”

  26. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Well, thank God we are still encouraged to fulfill our obligation at St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis or Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro in San Francisco or at the Soho Gay Masses in London.

  27. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I am a little confused too, since I thought that even those Masses unattached to a bishop in good standing could satisfy the Sunday obligation in emergencies.
    Perhaps the unstated differences are:
    1. HABIT of attending these types of Masses: In non-emergencies it is true one does not fulfill the obligation. The emergency may exist for a short time, but not every week.
    2. Good parish is nearby: Perhaps the address of this chapel is near uniate parishes and no emergency would ever exist, a long as there are parishes nearby that are attached to a bishop.

    Aren’t these following statements correct?
    1. if a priest is ordained, licitly or not, his Mass is valid.
    2. if a priest is NOT attached to a bishop in good standing [as with SSPX, Greek Orthodox, one-off chapels, etc] the Mass is valid, but illicit.
    3. In cases such as the SSPX which is not attached to a bishop in good standing, the Masses are valid but illicit. In the SSPX case, confessions and marriages are invalid and null. For one to become a Catholic in good standing, one must go to confession to and be [re-]married by a priest attached to a bishop in good standing.
    4. In an emergency or due to total unavailability, we can satisfy our Sunday obligation by attending the Mass that is not attached to a bishop.
    5. Missing that link with the bishop, since we are not ‘in communion’ with these groups, I thought that receiving Communion and other Sacraments from the Orthodox and various one-off sects are also off-limits, unless at point of death or something.
    6. Without the state of urgent emergency, repeated attendance at an SSPX chapel, Orthodox, or other sects do NOT, can not, satisfy the Sunday obligation. If attending becomes a habit without the existence of a real emergency, then the intention of the individual becomes a demonstration of not being in union with Rome, but shows attachment to that group not affiliated with a bishop.

    Therefore,
    ~~one can attend a Mass said by a priest with no bishop, and not sin such as daily Mass or if one goes to a ‘good’ Mass as well on Sunday ['attend' is the operative word, not talking about the Sacraments]
    ~~one can satisfy the Sunday obligation at valid Masses when unattached to a bishop in an EMERGENCY
    ~~one does NOT satisfy the Sunday obligation when there is no emergency such as when there are plenty of uniate [in union with the Pope] parishes nearby.

    Throwing in this too: To be validly baptized one must have FORM [the right words], MATTER [clean water], and the intention to INTEND AS THE CHURCH INTENDS, so in some cases although the outward signs may exist, the intention could be at fault, so it is always safer to be baptized by a good Catholic priest or at least a believing member of the Catholic Church. [this is why all converts used to be conditionally baptized back in the day, it is just safer]. I just wonder about some baptisms…

    Thanks to Henry Edwards for the hard quotes. Specifics are good :-)

  28. jhayes says:

    Henry Edwards, Your quote is from a letter Msgr.Perl wrote in January of 2003 . Five months later he wrote another letter saying:

    2. Concretely this means that the Masses offered by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are valid, but illicit i.e., contrary to Canon Law. While it is true that participation in the Mass at the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute “formal adherence to the schism”, such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church. While we hope and pray for a reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” cannot recommend that members of the faithful frequent their chapels for the reasons which we have outlined above. We deeply regret this situation and pray that a reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X with the Church may come about, but until such time the explanations which we have given remain in force.

    Specifically, since we cannot encourage attendance at Masses celebrated by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X, neither can we recommend receiving Holy Communion at these Masses.

    http://www.seattlecatholic.com/misc_20030709.html

  29. “Well, thank God we are still encouraged to fulfill our obligation at St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis …”

    Are we? Why would we want to? Are you quite certain that those situations are not every bit as much disapproved, and every bit as much out of control as an “independent” chapel?

  30. Dom Kilian, Can.Reg. says:

    Rorate-Caeli is reporting that the Chapel in question is not an SSPX chapel:

    Clarification (2100 GMT): Following our request for a clarification, we have been informed by the US District of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) that the chapel mentioned in the letter below is not a chapel of the Society and that, while its specific name was expressly mentioned by the sender in the deleted data, it is NOT included in the public list of chapels, including in those ‘independent chapels’ identified by the Society publicly as ‘friends of the Society of Saint Pius X’. It is very possible that this information, easily researched online on the website of the U. S. District, might have led someone in the Commission to believe that the chapel, which is friendly to the SSPX but unlisted by them and not one of the “Friends of the Society of Saint Pius X” chapel, is a venue with no affiliation whatsoever to the SSPX and led to this different appraisal by the Commission.

    source: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/05/for-record-new-pced-letter-on-sspx.html

  31. Dom Kilian et al:

    Thank you. There seems to be some distinction drawn between how this chapel was viewed by Rome, as opposed to an SSPX chapel, with respect to suitability for fulfilling one’s obligation. I am not sure where anyone gets the idea that that matters, so I have inquired in a certain other forum accordingly.

    I liken it to referring to a woman as being “a little pregnant.” You either are, or you are not. Likewise, a celebration of Mass is either licit, or it is illicit. I have failed to see what difference it makes, in this case, whether a chapel operating outside of Rome is affiliated with a larger body or not.

  32. MWBH: But does not a question still remain, as to it is always wrong to attend an illicit Mass?

  33. BaedaBenedictus says:

    “Are we? Why would we want to? Are you quite certain that those situations are not every bit as much disapproved, and every bit as much out of control as an “independent” chapel?”

    Oh, I’d say they are, far moreso–in reality. But on paper they are fully “approved”. The first 2 are notorious diocesan parishes and the Soho Gay Masses are actually sponsored by the Archdiocese of Westminster.

    Now, I’m not a regular at any SSPX or independent chapel, but my point is that Rome pays far too much critical attention to these traditionalist refugee camps when they exist primarily to get away from the heresy, scandal and chaos permitted by dioceses up and down the country. Rome needs to start addressing the devastation left by bad bishops instead of the people they’ve pastorally abused and abandoned. [I think "Rome" is paying more attention. For example, watch the appointment of bishops.]

  34. Imrahil says:

    Well, the Mass is illicit, in so far is under law, it should primarily (!) not have taken place.

    But the Mass is what we might call quasi-licit, by decree of the Council of Constance, in so far as the suspended priest has not been declared vitandus (that exists for suspensions too, not just excommunications); because then, the faithful can come for any just cause (which is less that a great utility, itself less than necessity; the just cause need thus not excuse the attending but only be not wrong in itself, as “I always wanted to go to a Mass by a suspended priest” would be). Consequently also, even a suspended priest who is not vitandus can practically always, without sin, celebrate a Mass upon the request of the faithful.

    Which is (I guess) why the response ad 2 was, rightly, negative.

    Don’t believe me? Look it up in St. Alphonse.

    I wonder whether St. Alphonse had anything to say about Sunday obligations and suspended priests. It’s at least not at the part of the Moral Theology where censures are discussed.

  35. brianvzn says:

    I think attendance at a Chapel of the SSPX is more pleasing to God than attendance at certain Novus Ordo parishes; [That's quite a statement!] especially ones where you have to search for the tabernacle and armies of “lay ministers” run amok. I’m bring somewhat sarcastic, but my point is an SSPX Chapel is the last place you have to worry about a valid consecration of the Eucharist.

  36. brianvzn says:

    I’ve been to a few Novus Ordo parishes where they omit the “for us men” from the Creed, the Priest begins Mass by telling you to say hi and shake hands with the people around you, etc. Luckily, I live near a mission Church that follows the 1962 rubrics, but now when I travel, instead of going to a Novus Ordo with questionable validity, I go to the nearest SSPX chapel.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Supertradmum says:

    Still confused. If the SSPX is the only TLM in the area, can we choose that over the NO?

    You’ve touched the central issue. Do Catholics have a right to Latin mass? Further, do Catholics have a right to the historical Roman Rite (i.e., the 1962 Missal)?

    I think the answer to both is yes, and I fail to see how it can be considered materially sinful to attend an SSPX mass if bishops (incl Paul VI) have conspired to derived Catholics of their rights.

  38. Henry:

    Sometimes the best answer is the simplest. This includes the matter of fulfilling one’s obligations to attend Mass on Sundays and certain holidays. The term “illicit” means “unlawful.” I gather you are asking (if I can put it ever so slightly another way) if it is ever okay to do something unlawful. Basically, Henry, no, it is generally NOT okay to do something unlawful.

    Sorry, but I’m afraid it’s that obvious.

    The above being said, attending an illicit Mass would not be a problem if a lawful obligation is not meant to be fulfilled (which is one of the points made in the recent letter). But if it is, the answer could not be more plain. And quite frankly, these attempts by so many to dissect the discipline of the Church with Talmudic fastidiousness, in the hope of finding some kind of a loophole, are just plain silly.

    I’ll repeat what I’ve written earlier. If I had the money, I put it on billboards across the street from traditional chapels across the nation: “One cannot use an unlawful means to fulfill a lawful end.”

    Like I said, it’s that obvious.

  39. muckemdanno says:

    It’s as clear as mud now.

    The law (canon 1248) has not actually been changed, but the “interpretation” of the law has done a 180 degree reversal. Why do we even have laws? [As I wrote above, do not freak out. There were elements of the issue that I pointed to which were, as it turns out, crucial.]

  40. Speravi says:

    Two questions arise:
    1. Does this imply that such a Mass is not “celebrated…in a Catholic rite?”
    2. If so, why? [In considering what a "Catholic" rite is, you consider more than the book used.]

  41. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Roman law has broken down in the last several decades, and anarchy reigns. [I think statements like this are both exaggerations and unhelpful. There are certainly things that need greater clarity, but "anarchy" does not "reign" because of the law itself.] I think traditionalists would be the first to applaud if the Holy See and the bishops who claim to be in communion with that See made vigorous efforts to restore law and order and clean out the Augean stables. At the moment, we’re in the Wild West, and parsing canonists and byzantine bureaucracies and juridical rigorists are useless until the crisis, not just in the application of canon law but also/especially in the lex orandi and lex credendi, subsides.

  42. Centristian says:

    The problem is that many of the people who attend Mass and other services at SSPX or SSPX-affiliated chapels are persuaded that they may only truly fulfill their obligation at an SSPX or SSPX affiliated/approved Mass venue. This is not their fault; they have been…I’ll be nice and use the term “persuaded”…into believing that they may not stray from the SSPX enclosure due to the “Crisis in the Church”. This…persuasion…sadly, can be so severe that such Catholics will drive tremendous distances to attend Mass at an SSPX chapel, even when they live very nearby diocesan parishes that offer the Tridentine Mass each week. They fear for the validity of the “Novus Ordo” priest’s Holy Orders so much so, that it wouldn’t matter if they lived across the street from such a church, they would drive to the distant SSPX chapel, instead. They would also excuse themselves from the obligation of attending Mass at all rather than walk across the street if they received word that the distant SSPX Mass was cancelled for some reason.

    While SSPX lay followers cannot bring themselves to attend a “Novus Ordo” Mass for conscience’s sake, too often in the Lefebvrist milieu the old Latin Mass and the SSPX become the entire ecclesiastical universe, such that it would not even occur to them that there might be (and in many, many cases would be) an Eastern Rite church or two, or three, or four nearby that offers the ancient Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, or some other ancient rite that has not been tampered with or affected in any way by Vatican II, at which they might licitly fulfil their Sunday obligation, and receive, validly, the other Sacraments, including the Sacrament of Penance.

    Ignoring the Eastern Church, alas, does not take away the hard fact of its presence. How many Ukrainian Catholic or Byzantine Catholic or Maronite parishes with valid, 100% traditional liturgies and sacraments (that Lefebvrists do NOT have a beef with) do Catholics who place themselves in Lefebvrist pews drive past on a weekly basis, I wonder? And what does simply ignoring such opportunities to licitly fulfil one’s obligation mean as far as culpability, I wonder?

    Again, I do not blame the poor people in the pews for this gigantic oversight on their part; the Lefebvrist culture completely ignores everything but the SSPX and its affiliates. The Catholic Church of the East, however, ignored or not, stands, in many, many places, as a great big foil to the argument that, on account of the “Crisis in the Church” there exists an “emergency” need of the ministrations of the clergy of the SSPX. If you’re going to the SSPX chapel each Sunday to avoid the “Novus Ordo”, but you live in a town that has a Byzantine Catholic Church (or several), I don’t see how.

    To my dear fellow Catholics who attend Mass at SSPX chapels (just as I once upon a time felt I had to for conscience’s sake), I would strongly urge you, if you feel you cannot attend the Novus Ordo Mass or even a Tridentine Mass celebrated by a so-called “Novus Ordo Priest”, not to ignore the valid and completely traditional liturgies and sacraments of the various Catholic Churches of the East that may be (and very likely are) represented in your area. Many of you have such churches nearby. Get out a phone book. Look them up. You might discover that that weird-looking church with the onion shaped dome across the street from your house is not an Orthodox church or a Buddhist temple, but a CATHOLIC Church that offers a TRADITIONAL liturgy and VALID sacraments every single Sunday! Go there. In addition to all the grief it will spare your soul, it will also save alot of wear and tear on your vehicle and will save you tons of money each month on gasoline!

    At least until the SSPX is finally regularized (if it ever is). Once that happens, then you can resume ignoring the Ukrainian Catholic Church across the street and start driving 100 miles one way to go to Mass again.

  43. AnnAsher says:

    Centristian, Amen! I fell down the rabbit hole of which you speak mentally and spiritually although not physically as I don’t attend SSPX. But oh how I wrestled! Then I went to a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy. Light bulb!

  44. Speravi says:

    To clarify:
    By asking, “why?,” I am wondering what the precise reason is in this instance. I left the one-word question to avoid writing multiple paragraphs of scenarios and avoid “freaking out.” What I am asking is whether PCED is treating this chapel’s Mass in the same way as they would treat an Eastern Orthodox liturgy? If so, is this because they are viewing this community as akin to the Eastern Orthodox? Finally, if so, is it because the SSPX also are viewed as being akin to the Eastern Orthodox? I had heretofore been given the impression that the SSPX are canonically-irregular/disobedient Catholics rather than non-Catholics. Is this chapel being treated as non-Catholic or is this the expected approach to any illicit Mass?

  45. Rachel K says:

    The following letters from Mgr Perl from the Pontifical Commission Dei, dated 1995 and 1998, are very clear:
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CEDSSPX.HTM See especially note 2.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cedsspx2.htm See point b.

    I think it is especially important to note from the first letter that “The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called “Tridentine” Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such (SSPX) Masses.”

  46. Rachel K says:

    Sorry, that should say “Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei”.

  47. Supertradmum says:

    I do not feel as if my question was answered. There are so many abuses in local NO Masses, and the lack of TLMs in the southern part of England if one does not have a car, that sometimes, the local SSPX is the only TLM option. Do we have to spend the rest of our lives not being able to attend the TLM? Some friends of mine want me to come back to Malta. There is no TLM allowed there, period. The Archbishop has suppressed all efforts to have it. A friend of mine wrote to Rome about this and nothing came of the letter. The response was to write again to PC Ecclesia Dei.

    Some of us have waited a very long time for the TLM to appear in our areas.

    [There is no easy answer to this. First, there must be priests able and willing to say the TLM. While younger men and new priests are often - more and more often now - willing to do so, they have to have some training. Also, they are often not the pastors of their parishes and therefore cannot change Mass schedules. Pray for vocations. As far as the SSPX is concerned, my understanding is that the letter of Msgr. Pozzo (above) is not about fulfilling obligations at chapels of the SSPX, but rather going to some other, independent chapel not formally under the SSPX's organization. If I am reading the situation correctly, we fulfill our obligation at an SSPX chapel, but not these chapels that are even farther out on the fringe of formal unity with the Roman Pontiff.]

  48. Imrahil says:

    Do Catholics have a right to Latin mass? Further, do Catholics have a right to the historical Roman Rite (i.e., the 1962 Missal)?

    Catholics have a right to interpret any laws and allowances in their favor to the highest reasonably possible spectrum. (cf. a canon with a low number). (I have no opinion whether the new document now does rule out the SSPX Sunday Mass or does not.)

    However, among the rights of the Catholic faithful (cf. some canons with a 2xx number), the right to assist at a EF Mass is not found.

    There are so many abuses in local NO Masses
    which are problem to the consciences of the abusers, but not the attending faithful. These may get upset, and even entirely miss the feelable consolation that attendance at Mass otherwise would give, but they can just sit in the back, contemplate that it is Holy Mass going on, fulfilling their duty (even if a TLM which fulfills the Sunday obligation, no opinion on the SSPX, were present; choosing that is not morally obligatory). As the saying goes, service is service and liquor is liquor.

    (Have I sounded German? Sorry for that.)

  49. mrsschiavolin says:

    Sorry if this is not quite to the topic, but I am truly grieved that any Catholic would want to be separated from the Holy Father by engaging the SSPX. I really don’t understand how that’s a noble or praiseworthy decision.

  50. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Bottom line: go to a Mass that is attached to a bishop in union with Rome unless it is a real emergency [deciding the church has been taken over by imposters is not an emergency - that is your personal opinion].

    It never ceases to amaze me how ‘liberal’ some hard-line traditionalists are – in order to justify going to Masses that are NOT attached to a uniate bishop, they create all kinds of what-ifs, pretense and circular arguments. These ‘liberals’ will quote chapter and verse of the church in many areas, but then ignore other rulings when it doesn’t suit them. So…does the Church own the Liturgy or not? Who exactly is the Magisterium? Not us. We can suspect and identify problems but we do not have the authority to make our own conclusions.

    These kinds of Masses satisfy the obligation only in an emergency situation. As our own Diocesan Secretary of Liturgy told me late last year, that habitual attendance in a non-urgent situation does NOT satisfy the obligation. In many cases SSPX and one-off chapels are near real NO parishes or Byzantines, therefore that is not an emergency situation.

    I come from that ultra trad environment – I know pretty much how self-delusional an entire family can become.

  51. robtbrown says:

    I don’t think this matter is as easily settled as some of the comments indicate. The last canon of the Code invokes the maxim Suprema Lex Salus Animarum (The highest law is the salvation of souls).

    Are we supposed to think that SLSA isn’t to be applied to attendance at a mass using a missal containing the historical Roman Rite and promulgated by the pope in 1570, whose main components predate that by hundreds of years? Has suppressing (directly or indirectly) this mass, which caused the creation of the SSPX, violated SLSA?

    Although there are real distinctions between licit and illicit, doesn’t it strike anyone as absurd that it has been licit that a celebrant dress in a clown suit, enter the church on a motorcycle, or (supply your own horror story), but that it is illicit to celebrate the historical Roman Rite?

    I realize that Rome has been in a Chinese finger trap: Backing those who deny the Roman authority implicit in Latin liturgy (cf. Veterum Sapientia) and opposing those who embrace it. It is a mess, however, created by Rome itself during the Montini papacy.

    Centristian is no doubt right that there are some who attend SSPX chapels who have been “persuaded that they may only truly fulfill their obligation at an SSPX or SSPX affiliated/approved Mass venue”. But let’s not stop there. There are also people who attend a NO mass because they think they are permitted to ignore Church doctrine on faith and morals, which they consider “stupid rules”.

  52. “It never ceases to amaze me how ‘liberal’ some hard-line traditionalists are – in order to justify going to Masses that are NOT attached to a uniate bishop, they create all kinds of what-ifs, pretense and circular arguments.”

    (And here I thought I was the only one to notice.)

    They have more in common with them than that. They resort to quips fit for a bumper sticker, hyperbole, and sensationalism. Those fora under their control are never a level playing field, as they shut out arguments they know they can’t beat. And failing all of that, they resort to ridicule. Saul Alinsky would be equally proud of them.

    “Although there are real distinctions between licit and illicit, doesn’t it strike anyone as absurd that it has been licit that a celebrant dress in a clown suit …”

    The fact that someone gets away with something (with the examples you cite, far less often in recent years) does not make it licit. It also does not make it easy to stop. A bishop could spend his entire day doing nothing but going from one parish to another, making sure his priests behave themselves. Your comparison, then, does nothing to objectively advance your argument, but it does suggest that some bishops deserve more sympathy than they get. Meanwhile, the 2007 motu proprio has removed any restrictions on the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. While some dioceses make it difficult to implement (another trend gradually falling by the wayside), the good Father Z has explained (response to Supertradmum at 3:43 am) the difficulties that cannot be avoided, good intentions aside.

  53. Jim Dorchak says:

    On the Eclisa Dei letter on the SSPX, [HEY! Wait a minute. Is the letter about the SSPX? Is it? I think we have established that it is not.] it strikes me that Mr. Brian Mershon of Greenville SC has a letter from the same office stating that your Sunday obligation could be satisfied at a SSPX Church, ie… the exact opposit of the current letter. I have seen the original of this letter and it is more legitimate than a Hawaii birth certificate.
    I wonder has somthing changed since the letter I am mentioning above was issued? One would think that it has become more acceptable to attend the SSPX of late.

  54. robtbrown says:

    Manwithblackhat says,

    The fact that someone gets away with something (with the examples you cite, far less often in recent years) does not make it licit. It also does not make it easy to stop. A bishop could spend his entire day doing nothing but going from one parish to another, making sure his priests behave themselves.

    You’ve contradicted yourself. The fact that a bishop does nothing to stop it means that he permits it, at least implicitly.

    Your comparison, then, does nothing to objectively advance your argument, but it does suggest that some bishops deserve more sympathy than they get.

    I realize that many bishops have been stuck with bad situations, incl many poorly formed priests, who think that the pastoral trumps the doctrinal. When they accept the job, however, they also accept the responsibilities, some of which are obviously difficult to implement. As a friend then at the Cong of the Clergy told me, “Even with all the problems in the Church, if it were raining miters, none would hit the ground.”

    Meanwhile, the 2007 motu proprio has removed any restrictions on the use of the Traditional Latin Mass. While some dioceses make it difficult to implement (another trend gradually falling by the wayside), the good Father Z has explained (response to Supertradmum at 3:43 am) the difficulties that cannot be avoided, good intentions aside.

    The aforementioned letter from Msgr Perl was written four years before the MP. Further, there are six parishes here, two more just out of town in the country, another about 15 minutes away. No Latin mass in any of the nine. The nearest Latin mass is 40 minutes away.

  55. MWBH: “Sorry, but I’m afraid it’s that obvious.”

    Well, not really. It’s the offering of the illicit Mass that’s unlawful. The question is whether attending an unlawfully offered Mass–whether or not to satisfy an obligation–is itself an unlawful action. If not, then so doing does not constitute “using an unlawful means to fulfil a lawful end. In this case your favorite dictum is inapplicable, and therefore does not answer the question.

    I have neither a personal interest in this question nor a clear opinion as to its answer, but I know that logical distinctions–such as between the unlawfulness of offering a Mass and that of attending it–can be critical in doctrinal and theological matters.

  56. Centristian says:

    robtbrown:

    “Are we supposed to think that SLSA isn’t to be applied to attendance at a mass using a missal containing the historical Roman Rite and promulgated by the pope in 1570, whose main components predate that by hundreds of years? Has suppressing (directly or indirectly) this mass, which caused the creation of the SSPX, violated SLSA?”

    I’m not sure, to be honest, what “SLSA” has to do with it at all, in fact, when there are so many other forms of the Catholic eucharistic celebration available besides the 1570 form of the Mass of the Roman Rite that are every bit as conducive to salvation, even in their external aspects, as the Tridentine Mass. This idea that only the Tridentine liturgy and no other form of worship is salvific is a tragic idea that may, itself, end up depriving many souls of salvation. You, yourself, cite stubborn insistence upon that form of worship as the very cause of the SSPX rebellion.

    If the Tridentine form of celebrating the Eucharist were so necessary for the salvation of souls, it seems a wildly inexplicable thing to me that the Holy Spirit should have allowed Christ’s Church to languish without it for so very, very long, before the Gallican liturgy at last had her way with the Roman liturgy (both of which were abhorred by the Church in Constantinople), giving us that form of Mass that was made typical by Pius V only in 1570 (but only in the West, although not everywhere in the West).

    Stranger and more bewildering, still, is the manner in which Christ saw fit to first celebrate the Eucharist, a service which bore no resemblance at all to the Tridentine form of Mass. If the Tridentine form of worship were so very key, somehow, to the salvation of souls, then why did not our Lord ordain that it be so right from the very start, I wonder? Instead, he offered a celebration that, if it were repeated today, would cause traditionalists to rend their garments.

    You seem to want to suggest that Catholics have two alternatives to choose from when it comes to public worship: the Tridentine Mass or a completely deformed liturgy celebrated either by a clown or by a priest riding a motorcycle into the church. If any Catholic actually lives in a place in which those really are his only two options, then he needs to move to a different place, because that place is just messed up.

    “There are also people who attend a NO mass because they think they are permitted to ignore Church doctrine on faith and morals, which they consider ‘stupid rules’.”

    Are there? Im sorry, I’m rather inclined to imagine that those people are much more likely to skip Mass, altogether, and spend their Sunday mornings on the beach or at theme parks or in bed with a hangover. I have yet to meet a Catholic who has declared (or I dare say even thought to himself), “I will only go to the Ordinary Form of Mass because that form of worship encourages me to ignore Church doctrine on faith or morals.” What a strange form of rebellion against the Church’s teachings on faith and morals it is to make a point of going to church.

    Look, my hope is that this mess all gets resolved somehow, so that at least some percentage of the Lefebvrist community becomes somehow regularized in order that Catholics who want to worship in their pews are no longer caught up in all of these sad but necessary canonical dilemmae. It will always seem unfortunate to me, however, that many such Catholics will forever be under the wildly false impression that assisting at the Tridentine Mass is the only salvific manner of worshipping as Catholics, ignoring all other lawful, even beautiful forms of worship that present themselves around the globe in our holy Catholic Church. I think that’s very sad, indeed.

  57. “The question is whether attending an unlawfully offered Mass–whether or not to satisfy an obligation–is itself an unlawful action.”

    Yes, I got that, and I took great pains to explain it. Its unlawfullness to the attendee becomes an issue inasmuch as he uses it to satisfy an obligation (which, as I wrote before, was a point raised in the letter). To wit, made my point in bold italics.

    Everybody misses that. Apparently.

  58. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “Stay calm and carry on.” Though in Americanese, of course, this invites kicking and screaming in a calm way. :)

  59. “You’ve contradicted yourself. The fact that a bishop does nothing to stop it means that he permits it, at least implicitly.”

    That is just plain wrong. Surely you do not suggest that a bishop is either always successful in his attempts to live up to his calling, or he is a total failure. Many of the saints did not live up to this standard. John Chrysostom was on the short list of prelates who defeated the heresy of Arianism, yet spent his final years in exile. Francis of Assisi went to his grave banished from the order he founded, surrounded by a mere handful of loyal friars. Alphonsus Ligouri was also banished from the order he founded, forbidden to celebrate Mass in the Holy Roman Empire during that period, while he was a bishop! And those are just three off the top of my head. Were they all total failures as well?

    “When they accept the job, however, they also accept the responsibilities, some of which are obviously difficult to implement. As a friend then at the Cong of the Clergy told me …”

    Ah, name dropping. Nice touch. Fortunately, it proves my point, so I’ll let it go. (Besides, I do it all the time.)

    “The aforementioned letter from Msgr Perl was written four years before the MP. Further …”

    No, let’s stop here for a moment. Please go to the comment that I actually referred to, the one to which you respond here, and see that I have already responded to this. Eastern Rite Catholics comprise about two percent of the Catholic population in the US (and worldwide), and many routinely travel for an hour to attend Divine Liturgy. Catholics who adhere to the Traditional form of the Roman Mass tend to be around one percent. Then there is also the good Father’s explanation. I’ll repeat it here: “There is no easy answer to this. First, there must be priests able and willing to say the TLM. While younger men and new priests are often – more and more often now – willing to do so, they have to have some training. Also, they are often not the pastors of their parishes and therefore cannot change Mass schedules. Pray for vocations.” (I have assisted in the training of a few of them, by the way.)

    This assumes there are enough people in any one locale who want the Old Mass. In my experience (which is quite a bit), it simply does not always happen. The overwhelming majority of Catholics of the Roman Rite are perfectly content (for better or for worse) with the “ordinary form.”

    For the record, I am not one of them.

  60. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Notice how liberals promote abortion: what if the woman is dying? raped? too young? has a bad home life? too poor? When in reality most abortions occur in the most normal and stable situations, just because they can. Many of us are aware that the arguments for abortion are based on wild and rare exceptions rather than just regular situations.

    The parallel is the justification by those who persist in attending Masses not in union with a bishop. [then why bother going if you don't belong to THE Church? where is the grace coming from if not from the bishop?] To them, every N.O. Mass is crazy, irreverent, with balloons and tricycles coming down the aisle. But that is not the case. Reverent N.O. Masses can be found.

    I was raised on fear of the rotten N.O. “they aren’t really Catholic” “don’t listen to them” “avoid them” “the pope must be an imposter to have implemented this”….When I got into the real world and actually experienced dedicated priests doing the best they could at the N.O. I was dumbstruck. By that time I had lost important connections with the life of the Church and went down an isolated path, making many personal mistakes. I can tell you personally that there is a terrible cost for separating oneself from the visible Church. If its not to our liking, too bad – we are given the grace in this era to persist in the Faith even when it seems dim.

    Don’t snicker when I recommend meditating on the Passion. When Christ died, did the Church go away? When Peter denied, was he not the Pope? When the apostles fled, were they no longer bishops?
    Stick to your bishop. he is your lifeline. Obedience often makes no sense, but it is obedience that defeats the devil.

  61. cyrillist says:

    “Surely you do not suggest that a bishop is either always successful in his attempts to live up to his calling, or he is a total failure.”

    First of all, MWBH, there’s no need for you to call robtbrown “Shirley.” (RIP, Leslie Nielsen.)

    Secondly, it isn’t apparent to me that robtbrown is making that suggestion. Mother Teresa’s famous quote is apropos: “God doesn’t require us to succeed, He only requires that you try.” If there were more evidence that bishops, by and large, were actually struggling to clean up the liturgical mess, instead of ignoring it or even conniving at it, we could rest assured that the good battle was being fought, however dim its prospects of success. As it is, it’s an open question as to how many bishops really attempt to live up to their calling in this critical matter.

  62. Jerry says:

    Responding to robtbrown’s comments:

    doesn’t it strike anyone as absurd that it has been licit that a celebrant dress in a clown suit, enter the church on a motorcycle, or (supply your own horror story), but that it is illicit to celebrate the historical Roman Rite?

    Both are illicit.

    You’ve contradicted yourself. The fact that a bishop does nothing to stop it means that he permits it, at least implicitly.

    Individual bishops do not determine whether aspects of the liturgy are licit; thus, their acceptance, implicit or explicit, of the illicit does not make it licit.

  63. “Secondly, it isn’t apparent to me that robtbrown is making that suggestion. Mother Teresa’s famous quote is apropos: ‘God doesn’t require us to succeed, He only requires that you try.’”

    My point exactly, one I would have considered lost on our mutual colleague. To wit, it did not appear that he considered just how difficult it is, to get unreasonable people to be reasonable, despite one’s most valiant efforts. The late Cardinal O’Connor once said that many bishops are, in his words, “morally bludgeoned by their staffs.”

    By the way, who’s Shirley?

  64. cyrillist says:

    “…despite one’s most valiant efforts.”

    Alas, would that I could be assured that the bishops’ efforts were indeed most valiant, in more cases than not. So the shepherds take their orders from the sheep, eh? And that’s supposed to be an excuse? Surely that ain’t how it oughta be… (Great, now you’ve got me doing it.)

  65. ContraMundum says:

    Here’s a question that has been bugging me for some time. It appears that not only the bishops, but also the priests (more likely) and some laity (less likely) may have “adhered” to the SSPX schism enough to incur excommunication, as is specifically mentioned specifically in the letter quoted by Henry Edwards (31 May 2012 at 1:01 pm). The decree lifting the excommunications only mentions the bishops by name:

    Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.

    Does that last bit (“deprived of any juridicial effect”) lift the excommunications of their adherents? It does not seem right to reconcile the leaders but not the followers.

  66. Supertradmum says:

    Tina in Ashburn,
    Those of you who think there are alternatives have not lived in liturgical wastelands. I repeat, there is no nor will there be in the near future, a TLM in Malta-the priests cannot contradict the hierarchy. In Ireland, one has a choice of going to Dublin, on a long train or bus ride taking two hours, or one in the middle of nowhere, needing a car, if one is in the west as I sometimes am.

    In many parts of Europe, one is hours away from a TLM which is not SSPX in many areas.

    As to the Passion of Christ and putting up with abuses, one may not be as old as I am to make that suggestion, as many of us have lived suffering for good liturgy for decades. And, I have to think of my own salvation. At this point, I am not near any TLM, either under a bishop or SSPX. The subject is very personal and painful. Indeed, the Mass is one issue, the spirituality another, and the community, the third. I spent too many coffee mornings with contraception Catholics, who hate the Pope because of several issues, want women priests, civil marriages, are into new age nonsense, and who vote socialist. Do not judge those of us who want desperately a TLM.

  67. “So the shepherds take their orders from the sheep, eh? And that’s supposed to be an excuse? Surely that ain’t how it oughta be… (Great, now you’ve got me doing it.)”

    It’s not an excuse, nor is it so much a case of “taking orders from the sheep,” as it is having to constantly babysit them. Working for the Federal government, for example, it is indeed possible to get fired, but it is also possible to dig in and outlast whoever is brought in to “clean things up.” If you “fire” a priest or a sister from a chancery position, they are still under the compensation of the Church. So you can fire them, but not really. This is why some bishops, if they do little else upon appointment, will focus attention on vocations and reforming the local seminary. I’m not necessarily comfortable with this level of resignation, but it does happen.

  68. Centristian says:

    ContraMundum:

    Well, I’m no canon lawyer on the one hand, so I couldn’t say for sure what the Roman authorities would decide with respect to the predicament of the laity who have followed the SSPX over a long period of time, thus adhering to a schism. As a former Lefebvrist, myself, however, I would say that very few lay Catholics attached to the Society of St. Pius X ever develop that “schismatic mentality” that the quoted document above references.

    The “mentality” that the layman in the pews of the SSPX ends up developing is not a schismatic one, but a conspiracy theory-oriented one. They fully regard themselves as members of the Roman Catholic Church and are 100% loyal to the papacy and the institutions of the hierarchy. What happens, however, is that they become persuaded of the idea that the modern day incumbents of the legitimate hierarchical offices that they really do respect and venerate have, in many cases, personally apostatized, and that they must, therefore, not obey their commands that the flock join them in their apostasy. They are taught to believe this by the SSPX leadership, and by other ‘Rad Trad’ speakers, authors, bloggers, and so forth.

    So the paranoia that is cultivated amongst the laity aligned with the Lefebvrist apparatus, it seems to me, isn’t really the same thing as a “schismatic mentality”. I will not say that there are zero traditionalists aligned with the SSPX who have not developed a schismatic mentality, but those would be on the fringe of the fringe, really. I would be hard-pressed to imagine that Christ regards the average Catholic in the SSPX pews as being cut off from his body for that reason, alone.

  69. Centristian says:

    Supertradmum:

    “Those of you who think there are alternatives have not lived in liturgical wastelands. I repeat, there is no nor will there be in the near future, a TLM in Malta…”

    So what? There wasn’t one in the Upper Room either. Those present but one all managed to become saints. The one who didn’t manage to become a saint left Mass early.

  70. Supertradmum,

    If I lived in London, I might frequently drive past several TLMs to attend the Sunday morning solemn OF Mass at Brompton. But I’m well aware of areas in fly-over country where there is not only no TLM (licit or illicit) or Byzantine divine liturgy within hours, but where one may have to drive a good many miles and past several Catholic parishes to find one where the OF Mass is celebrated in a way that seems respectful to Our Lord, and not hurtful to a person who loves the approved liturgy of the Church. I suspect this is what you mean by a “liturgical wasteland”.

    In any event, I think the pain caused by these “arbitrary deformations” (in Pope Benedict’s phrase) is all the more hurtful, the more Holy Mass is loved, in either form of the Roman rite. Most of the good Catholics suffering this pain, and the worry that may come with participation in liturgy that they fear is unworthy of God or themselves, probably have never attended (in recent decades) any kind of TLM, and the SSPX is not on their horizon at all.

    I suspect that Tina in Ashburn is thinking in some of her remarks, not of ordinary good Catholics like these, but rather of snide Novus Ordo haters who disparage all “Novus Ordo priests”, the kind who may even complain if a TLM celebrant has too few hosts for communion and has to go to the tabernacle and get what they may call “Novus Ordo hosts” (or worse). I personally wonder whether many such folks have not already chosen to separate themselves from the Catholic Church, and how time needs to be spent discussing where they go to what kind of Mass.

  71. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Henry Edwards, for understanding. Unless one is isolated in this sea of unbelief and liturgical abuses, one cannot understand the real suffering involved in making up one’s mind to attend yet another Mass of anomalies and massive disrespect–which I face most weekends. If it were not for obedience, I would skip such Masses, as sometimes I even wonder at the reality of the Presence if the priests are not in keeping with the Church in intent or actions.

    Centristian, I hope you are never scandalized, and the day we become cold to such abuses is the day we lose our sensitivity to God, who is Truth, Beauty, Purity. Those saints at the Last Supper were not alone in the midst of Catholic apostasy, nor were they living in a post-Christian era, but at the beginning of the Church. I forgive your blase attitude. Suffering sometimes can only be dealt with by will power, and the hope for grace.

  72. Imrahil says:

    Latae sententiae censures are only incurred when it is 100% clear that the person has done the crime in question and not met any of the criteria for lessening punishment, or the Church pronounces that they have been incurred.

    Thus, if not anybody has said explicitly: “Here I am, and I deny subordination to the Pope or my local bishop” (and note also that being inobedient and denying subordination are totally different things), then outside that one American diocese where the competent legislator has enacted sharper measures, none have been excommunicated for schism for adhering to the SSPX.

    Dear @Tina in Ashburn, I hate to quote Oskar Lafontaine but obedience is (even in the scholastic scheme) a secondary virtue; important yes, but secondary.

    The point about both “liberals” (as the English language unfortunately uses the term) and traditionalists or whatever is not whether they are obedient but whether they are right. (And whether, conceding arguendo their points, they were obedient enough, is a moral question; it is not part of the debate; it is their and their confessors’ problem.)

    The traditionalists just had the problem that among the virtues they defended (I do not say solely defended, but defended) was obedience (though in its proper place), which the “liberals” totally neglected. But the traditionalist movement never was “disobedience in the name of obedience”. At its core was the thought that the Pope should use his power to demand obedience, which they conceded he had, only for his function as a symbol, and to do the day-to-day business, and call lawbreakers to order, but not for organizing any substantial (even if orthodox) change outside emergency (except by facultative permission). There is something to the thought, though it does not on its own allow disobedience (which, again, is a moral question).

  73. ContraMundum says:

    @Imrahil

    Your answer is only partly helpful. “Latae sententiae censures are only incurred when it is 100% clear that the person has done the crime in question ….” Clear to whom? Take abortion, for example. It is an objective act, but it can in many cases be concealed from all but those people directly involved. It is very likely that no Church official will know of it until it is mentioned in confession.

    Still, you are probably right about this application. Getting angry at your bishop or even the Pope and going on a private rant — whether only to yourself or just in front of a few friends or family — probably does not do the damage to the Church meant by schism, which seems to be inherently public and enduring. I hope that is the case, and I hope that something will be said about it in the process of regularizing SSPX.

  74. Imrahil says:

    Sorry, I had the specific crime of schism in mind…

    Clear to whom?

    Clear objectively in itself, without any questions of details needing to be discussed. That does not mean well-known (which is the precise reason that latae-sententiae-censures exist).

    Still, on a side note, as respected a canon lawyer as Dr Peters holds that aborting mothers do not incur any excommunication (unless pronounced; which to my knowledge does not happen). His reasoning, which I refer without rendering an opinion on it because I do not have one, is: It can never be sure whether an aborting mother was not under heavy emotional pressure etc., which, though of course not normally excusing the act morally, still is a grounds for potential lessening of the punishment; and in all such cases no latae sententiae censure is incurred, as explicitly provided by canon – wait, I’ll look that up – can 1324, which is also the canon that deals with our question.

  75. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Supertradmum: hoo-boy of course you and all those suffering in the wasteland have my total sympathy. Back in the 70s/80s when I guess things were the worst, all of that was horrible to live through. And yes, we have alternatives today but we didn’t back then. We were gypsies going from parish to parish or chapels or whatever until we found peace with the Ukranian Byzantines.
    And you are right, not only can one suffer terribly from ugly N.O. Masses, the confused fellow Catholics can be even more wounding. I have been through all that too. [we are likely around the same age]

    Unfortunately for all of us, the rules are that the Church does not recognize these painful situations as an “emergency” as long as there is a licit Mass around, be it N.O or E.F. If you are in Orthodox Russia where possibly only Orthodox Masses exist – then yea you attend those.

    the blame belongs to our hierarchy and their inaction in relieving our agony. But you know that and I understand your pain. The question has always been: “but what do I do? That Mass is horrible!” We can come away thinking ‘did THAT travesty satisfy my Sunday obligation??” The laity is put into a horrible dilemma.

    Henry, thanks for the clarification :-) My brain leaps faster than I write and I forget to include the salient details. LOL

  76. Tina in Ashburn says:

    By virtue of obedience, and being attached to a bishop of Rome, consider that a clown Mass can give graces where a reverent one-off Traditional Mass may give NO grace at all. Without a bishop, a Mass no matter how reverent and by-the-book, if it is not under the authority of a bishop, is just lame.
    This is entirely possible.
    Our hierarchy really needs to make this clear, and explain to all why we have bishops and the power and importance of this real authority. It has taken me a long time to come to understand authority, as authority is so poorly exercised today.
    Obedience trumps – that is why Adam and Eve lost so much.

  77. ContraMundum says:

    @Imrahil

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I have to say I find this opinion of Dr. Peters quite surprising; the presumption in writing that law must have been that it would sometimes, or even typically, apply. It’s the same with marriage; most annulments seem to be based on what amounts to an insanity plea, and a shocking number of those are granted, but at least the nominal, default assumption should be that the couple at the altar are sane and really mean what they are saying. (And if not, there should be some rebuke for the priest who carelessly signed off on their marriage.) I suppose insanity could partially excuse almost any act, but it really should be proved, not assumed.

  78. robtbrown says:

    Centristian,

    Excuse the delay.

    1.The SLSA reference was opposed to those citing canon law as the reason such attendance does not satisfy Sunday obligation. And so I think it’s very important that the sensus fidelium (cf Newman and Lumen Gentium) not be excluded from this matter.

    2.There might be other rites, but the 1570 Missal is the mass prevalent in the West for hundreds of years. And, as I noted earlier, it is the historical Roman Rite.

    3.I’ve written here often that I think the battle is not over the 1962 and 1970 Missals but rather over Latin liturgy-ad orientem celebration and vernacular liturgy-versus populum celebration. Although the NO can be said in Latin-ad orientem celebration, the simple truth is that it really has never been available. I’ve been a Catholic since 1970, and, excepting some public masses at Roman basilicas and private masses said by friends who were in studies at the same time I was, I can count the number of NO Latin masses on one hand. In fact, I can only remember one: When I was doing consulting work in the mid 80′s in the DC area, there was one said by Fr Urban Schnaus OSB in the crypt of of the Basilica of the IC on the Campus of Cath U.

    IMHO, the idea that vernacular and Latin celebration are equally salvific contradicts Veterum Sapientia. And Cardinal Ratzinger wrote and spoke often about the superiority of ad orientem celebration’

    4.You are simply wrong about those who attend a garden variety NO mass. There are certainly some very good people, but there are others who think Church doctrine is not all that relevant. I know some of these people and have spoken with others. Ask any pastor how many members of his parish are contracepting or did during child bearing year (I mentioned 80% to a woman, a daily communicant with a liberal streak—she said that is low). If the pastor says he doesn’t know, it’s likely because he doesn’t want to think about it (which is understandable).

    I also know of lectors who have bragged about their vasectomies and have seen bumper stickers “Catholic and Pro Choice” in the parking lot during mass at more than one parish. There are aother examples I could give.

    7. Whatever warts are to be found in the SSPX and its adherents, I doubt you’ll find such disregard of Catholic doctrine.

  79. ContraMundum says:

    @rotbrown

    I suppose I’ve been lucky, then. For several years over the last decade, I was a member of a parish where the priest said one OF Mass in Latin every Sunday. He still does, as a matter of fact. He’s done everything but return to ad orientem; I’m not sure why he hasn’t done that.

    So maybe SSPX chapels are all cookie-cutter, but that really is not true of all NO parishes. Some exist that are so bad I’d feel almost as outraged as if it were some sort of Wiccan ceremony, many are both frustrating and depressing, many others are made up of people who are genuinely trying to do the right thing but who are dreadfully undereducated/mis-educated, and a small fraction (which does not mean an insignificant number) are solid, orthodox, and vibrant. They’re really all over the place.

    Unlike, presumably, most people who read this blog, I don’t think that the real problems can be solved simply by a return to the older and more traditional liturgy. There may be plenty of good reasons for promoting the TLM, but I seriously think that if you restored it to a parish in which 80% of the couples of childbearing age were contracepting and changed nothing else, you would find a year later that 80% of the couples would still be contracepting. You may say that a priest who says the TLM would be more likely to preach against contraception, so that the contracepting couples would either stop contracepting or stop attending, but my answer would be that an OF priest who preaches against contraception would have the same likely result.

  80. robtbrown says:

    manwithblackhat,

    1. The reference to a friend at the Cong of Clergy was used because it was widely known as the most conservative Congregation in the Vatican–unlike the SCDW, which the pope is trying to rebuild. I spent 8 years studying in Rome, during which time, one would think, I met a lot of people–priests who would become bishops (in fact, a few years ago received an invitation to a friend’s episcopal consecration–in Argentina), and bishops who would become Cardinals. I was older, in my 40′s, spoke Italian, and didn’t live in an insular American enclave.

    Oh yeah, I also studied Latin with a priest who later would have a blog that is read across two continents.

    2. It is silly to conclude that I said that bishops are either successful or failures. My point is that in the past 40 years bishops have done little to improve the liturgy (one reason for the election of BXVI), but we are still seeing altar rails disappear

  81. robtbrown says:

    Contramundum,

    There may be plenty of good reasons for promoting the TLM, but I seriously think that if you restored it to a parish in which 80% of the couples of childbearing age were contracepting and changed nothing else, you would find a year later that 80% of the couples would still be contracepting.

    I never said that a return to Latin liturgy would be like flipping a doctrinal electrical switch. The relationship between the liturgy and Catholic life, however, have been admirably set down in SC. I also recommend Veterum Sapientia, which notes the link between Latin and the Holy See. As I’ve noted before, the nature of Latin, which transcends any contemporary culture, is superb preparation for exposure to the Universal Church.

  82. The Cobbler says:

    For what it’s worth, I can second ContraMundum on having been places where the Novus Ordo was offered in Latin every week, with the addition that it was on rare special occassions ad orientem and I wouldn’t be shocked if since I was there they’ve started making that the norm rather than the special occassion feature.

  83. robtbrown says:

    manwithblackhat,

    I’m sorry. I didn’t respond to your last point. There is no doubt that there are not many priests equipped to say mass in Latin, esp. in the US, where the study of Latin almost completely disappeared from priestly formation. In fact, for some years American seminarians in Rome were actively discouraged from the Foster Latin course.

    There is also little doubt that demand for Latin liturgy is not high. That situation, like the Latin deficient priests, is the consequence of bishops and priests actively working against it. I have told the story here that in 1971, we (a group of students and 3 profs) asked the pastor for a Latin mass. He consented, with the stipulation that it be a sung mass. One of the profs had taken a course in chant at ND, and we formed a choir. The time was set at 9:30, the least attended mass. The church was packed, with people standing in the aisle (no exaggeration). Afterwards, the pastor received phone calls thanking him. The once a month mass continued for about 3 months, with similar attendance. Then the archbishop shut it down.

    Even with all that, there is still demand, which is why the question arises about whether the Sunday obligation is satisfied by attending an SSPX mass.

    BTW, I still hear homilies saying that VatII ended Latin liturgy and ad orientem celebration.

  84. robtbrown:

    1971 was over four decades ago. It’s been a whole new ball game for quite some time. It’s possible that some bishop would get a burr in his saddle and pull the same stunt today, but they are very rare. And those who would try it are less likely to get away with it. Not that we’re out of the woods, but the clearing is in sight.

    “BTW, I still hear homilies saying that VatII ended Latin liturgy and ad orientem celebration.”

    I hear a lot of stupid things too. Those who spread this sort of nonsense are a dying generation. All in good time …

  85. robtbrown says:

    manwithblackhat says:

    1971 was over four decades ago. It’s been a whole new ball game for quite some time. It’s possible that some bishop would get a burr in his saddle and pull the same stunt today, but they are very rare. And those who would try it are less likely to get away with it. Not that we’re out of the woods, but the clearing is in sight.

    I recommend that you re-read the paragraph, the topic sentence of which referred to bishops and priests working against Latin mass, with the consequence that 4 decades later (you were right about that one) much of the demand has been stamped out by the strategy.


    “BTW, I still hear homilies saying that VatII ended Latin liturgy and ad orientem celebration.”

    I hear a lot of stupid things too. Those who spread this sort of nonsense are a dying generation. All in good time …

    Not really. The priest who said it is neither old nor stupid, was a history major at Georgetown, is rightly respected here, and is a pretty good man, what is often now called a neo-con. He is here because of the health of his mother. I have been told that when he’s free he’s likely to be elected provincial.

    BTW, on Sat morning he said there were heretics on the extremes–LCWR and Lefebvre. I’ve never heard Lefebvre referred to a a heretic, but I have a policy of not correcting priests on their homilies. They know my background. If they was to ask me a theological question (and only one ever did), I’m accessible. Someday–God willin’ and the crick don’t rise–I’m going to write an article “Whatever happened to Theology” re how the impulse for theological inquiry has been suppressed in priestly formation. It is interesting to compare the theological wonder I found at the FSSP seminary to what I have seen among fairly recently ordained priests (10 years or less).

    BTW2, last year I visited a nearby Benedictine abbey for special event, an abbey getting a few vocations. I was talking to a few of the younger monks when the abbot (who also seemed a neo-con) approached. When he asked me what I did, I repeated what I had just told the younger monks: I had taught theology at the FSSP seminary for 4 years, and I also mentioned my long association with Fontgombault and now Clear Creek. His reaction made me laugh. His eyes grew large, and he lurched backwards. The point is that the opposition to Latin ad orientem liturgy is not merely found among liberals; it is alive and well in neo-cons.